Remembering Manchester’s forgotten high street stores

We look back the High Street shops we have loved and lost in Manchester.
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Over the years, numerous shops and retailers have graced the bustling thoroughfares of the city.

From iconic department stores to quirky independent boutiques, these establishments were more than just places of commerce – they were cherished by generations of shoppers.

In this article, we embark on a sentimental journey down memory lane, paying tribute to the forgotten high street shops that have either closed down or faded away from Manchester’s retail landscape.

While the city’s shopping scene continues to evolve with the times, it is crucial to acknowledge and preserve the legacy of these bygone gems that once brought joy, excitement, and convenience to countless shoppers.

Manchester’s Forgotten High Street Shops

Stolen from Ivor

Stolen From Ivor

Stolen from Ivor was a renowned fashion boutique that held a special place in Manchester’s retail landscape.

Founded by Ivor Hazan in 1965, the boutique quickly became a mecca for fashion hipsters and style-conscious individuals across the region.

Its location on King Street West in Manchester city centre made it easily accessible to shoppers.

The boutique was known for its curated selection of trendy and unique clothing pieces, which set it apart from traditional high-street fashion stores.

Stolen from Ivor offered a carefully curated collection of fashionable apparel that appealed to the city’s discerning and fashion-forward crowd.

Kendals (House of Fraser)

Kendal’s (Now House of Fraser)

Kendal’s was a high-end department store located in Deansgate, which House of Fraser now occupies

It boasted a rich history, having operated since 1832.

After a series of ownership changes and rebranding, Kendals eventually became House of Fraser.

Oi Polloi

Oi Polloi

Although only a temporary absence according to owners, Oi Polloi is a much-loved clothing store, formerly located in the Northern Quarter.

Oi Polloi was founded by Steve Sanderson and Nigel Lawson and sells a menswear range from brands such as Keen and Patagonia.

Even Liam Gallagher was a fan.

Now, the founders have sought to set the record straight on the future of the Oi Polloi brand by issuing a statement on social media.

They have said that the clothing brand has “not bit the dust” but has gone into “hibernation”, and encouraged followers to subscribe to its newsletter for “exact battle plans”.

Taking to Instagram, owners wrote: “There’s been a few rumours boy-racing down the information superhighway these past couple of months regarding Oi Polloi’s future, so it’s time to set the record straight – no, Oi Polloi has not bit the dust.

“We are having to go into hibernation for a bit, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a torched public-use e-bike, we will rise again.

“Huge changes are on the horizon, some good, some not so much… so let’s start with that.

“Unfortunately, our beloved Manchester outpost on Thomas Street has sadly retired to the big pearly white retail park in the sky.

“We’d like to thank everyone who ever came down to the shop to buy something or just to have a good ol’ chinwag, and without getting too teary-eyed, we’re absolutely gutted to say goodbye to our Mancunian stronghold and all those who passed through its hallowed doors – customers and staff members alike.

“That being said, Oi Polloi will live on, albeit in a metamorphosed form – we’re going back to the source of the Oi Polloi wellspring, taking a dip, then marching into hitherto uncharted zones with an invigorated pep in our step.

“We’ve got to remain tight-lipped about our exact battle plans for now, but you can stay updated by subscribing to our newsletter (link in bio), as well as keeping a keen eye on our socials. We’ll see you soon. Oi Polloi.”

Watch this space….

Woolworths

Woolworths sadly burned out by a fire

One of the most iconic high street stores, Woolworths, was a staple in Manchester for decades.

Known for its diverse range of products, from toys to stationery, it was a go-to destination for families and bargain hunters alike.

One of the most significant aspects of Woolworths was its “pick ‘n’ mix” sweet counter, which allowed customers to select a variety of sweets of their choice.

This feature was particularly popular among children and remains a nostalgic memory for many.

The doors of Woolworths’ Manchester branches closed for the last time in 2008, leaving behind only memories.

Lewis’s Department Store

Lewis’s Department Store

Lewis’s was a historic department store in Manchester, attracting shoppers for over 150 years.

The story of Lewis’s in Manchester began in the mid-19th century when it was founded by David Lewis in 1856.

The store quickly gained popularity for its diverse offerings, including clothing, cosmetics, household items, furniture, and much more.

With its prime location on the bustling Market Street, Lewis’s became a central hub for shoppers and a symbol of the city’s retail prosperity.

It had an impressive array of goods, including clothing, cosmetics, and household items.

Unfortunately, Lewis’s faced financial struggles and closed its doors in 2001.

Virgin Megastore

Virgin Megastore

While the digital age has revolutionised the way we consume media, music enthusiasts will always cherish the memory of Virgin Megastore.

With its vast collection of CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records, this iconic store on Market Street was a paradise for music and movie lovers.

The rise of online streaming, however, led to the eventual closure of Virgin Megastore in Manchester, leaving a hole in the hearts of those who spent hours browsing its vast collection of records, CD’s (maybe even minidisks), and tapes.

Littlewoods

Littlewoods was a well-known retail chain that had a significant presence in Manchester for many years.

Founded in 1923 by Sir John Moores, the company started as a football pools betting business.

It later expanded into mail-order retail, offering a wide range of products from clothing and homeware to electrical appliances and toys.

Like many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, Littlewoods faced challenges in the face of changing consumer habits and the rise of online shopping. The company tried to adapt to the digital age by launching an online platform, but it struggled to compete with larger e-commerce giants.

Unfortunately, the challenges proved insurmountable, and in the early 2000s, the decision was made to close the Littlewoods Manchester store.

C&A

C&A

This Dutch-based clothing retailer had a strong presence in Manchester during the ’80s and ’90s. C&A offered affordable and fashionable clothing for all ages, but it struggled to keep up with changing consumer trends and competition, leading to its eventual closure in the early 2000s.

During its heyday in the ’80s and ’90s, C&A adorned the city’s streets with fashionable clothing for all ages.

Unfortunately, changing consumer preferences led to its eventual decline and departure from the high street in the early 2000s.

Are there any we’ve missed? Let us know! [email protected]

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